Genre: Drama, Sport
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Music: Mark Isham
Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Much obliged to Nick Nolte’s Oscar nomination, otherwise very likely this review will miss this film (I know I’m kind of an Oscar nerd). Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the film is on a par with the recent sport kindred THE FIGHTER (2010), although MMA is much brutal than boxing and the cast is much more downbeat but pragmatic.
The film starts with a paralleled story-line, a family being torn apart, two brothers haven’t seen each other for years, one is a physics teacher with a merry family, but struggle with his young daughter’s illness; the other is AWOL ex-marine, suffering from his best friend’s ill-fated death, returning to his ex-alcoholic now-sober-for-a-year father, there are deep lacerations in the memories of both brothers, the film intrepidly opts not to use flashbacks to reveal the wounds, instead, through the conversation between two brothers, father and sons, the hallowing past is oozing out in its own pace and comes across as a superbly touching deployment.
Later in the tournament, their final knockout combat is being labelled as Underdog Vs. War Hero (Joel Edgerton has to be pummeled like a punchbag each round before miraculously tackling down his indomitable opponents while Tom Hardy’s over-brawny figure alone could intimidate all his pompously grandiose rivals), the fighting scenes are raw but less fly-on-the-wall than THE FIGHTER if my memory doesn’t fail me (the final victor is gratifying enough, but I am curious to imagine what the film would end if the winner is the other brother), but like THE FIGHTER, the sport is only the foil, a visual stunt to meet the (bloodthirsty) eyes, a familial drama is the mainstay of the triangle interplay. Nick Nolte is my current No.2 supporting actor of the year, his Oscar-moment is definitely the devastating monologue of Moby Dick after he recollects the alcohol; Edgerton and Hardy are both sacrificing a lot for their roles especially physically, I wish my top 10 slots had more room for them. Actually the truth is Edgerton’s part is quite flimsy (although he has proved his versatility), and Hardy’s part feels less-exploited and his tough contour is the fatal barrier for viewers to find the access to connect with.
P.S: Before I watched this film, one question popped into my mind is why the title is WARRIOR instead of WARRIORS? For the reason that it’s a savage winner-takes-all match between two brothers, which one is the warrior refers to?